RPA – not just a means to an end

RPA (Robotic Process Automation), Intelligent Automation, call it what you will, it’s on the increase and will only become more prominent in the business world as time goes by. And of course, it should, because it can bring so many benefits to an organisation.

Yet, as someone lucky enough to work on RPA transformation projects, I’ve seen how the automation assessment process can itself deliver ROI. This is in addition to the benefits of implementing RPA. So, read on for more details about how the RPA journey and destination can both benefit your business.

HFS Research state the global market for RPA has risen from $612m in 2016, through to $2,345m last year, and expect it to reach $4,308m in 2023. The reasons? Well, an increase in efficiency, the facility to work 24/7, cheaper, faster, more accurately, and it never gets bored.

However, there are some constraints to its implementation that are still proving difficult to overcome. It doesn’t like unstructured information, it can’t make judgment decisions, and there are some technologies such as VDI that can upset it. Finally, it is not cheap; well, at least not at the outset. If you are going to go down the RPA route, these are all factors you should be considering.

But to do that would mean that you may be missing out on a number of other benefits that going through the virtual workforce assessment cycle, developed by Triad, can bring you. Before you get to the point of implementing RPA, there’s a whole lot of work that is needed to assess if your environment is suitable for automation. Significantly, it’s this part of the virtual workforce assessment process that can yield benefits irrespective of whether RPA turns out to be the right solution for your business.

It is at this stage that, with the correct diligence and groundwork, you may identify areas of your business where efficiencies can be made, whether or not this requires automation.


Why is this the case?

Once a business is established and starts to grow, business processes frequently become more complex and often morph into one another. But often, this evolution isn’t optimised for all sorts of valid reasons; a lack of time to review the processes in place; the change in how the business operates is so gradual that no one notices that the start point and current business environments are now markedly different (or perhaps only subtly different). It can be as simple as personnel changes or the original goal of the process gets lost over time. Do you have processes in your business that exist because ‘that’s the way we have always done it’?

Whatever the reason, things change, and processes can become less efficient.

At a very high level, the virtual workforce assessment process requires discussions with management and experienced users to identify and map out any processes for consideration. The assessment gathers key metrics and associated information to support the technical and financial feasibility of automating those processes.

We ask; Is the process rules based? Is the data structured and digital? How many times is the process run? How much time is needed to perform the task?

At the end of the assessment, you will not only have a good idea of what tasks and/or processes are suitable for automation, but you should also have a much better perspective on the reality of your current business processes. You may think your organisation is running efficiently, but without an up-to-date summary, with comparable metrics, your answer can only be an educated guess. Remember, all too often out-of-date or misguided perceptions become reality.  Fully optimised organisations need to run business processes based on facts and assess performance against the latest developments in technology and automation.

The added advantage then, of undertaking the thorough review of your business processes, which RPA requires, is that these existing business processes can be viewed dispassionately. In the cold hard light of day you may discover that there are areas of your business where efficiencies can be made, even if they won’t be solved by RPA. Frequently, the efficiencies brought about by such a review can quickly pay for themselves through improvements in throughput and quality.

If your organisation finds it hard to regularly review processes or your instinct is that there may be processes that can move to RPA, don’t limit the business case to the benefits of automation alone. Working with a specialist team, like the one we have at Triad, to analyse your business environment will undoubtedly uncover recommendations for automation but the fastest ROI may relate to identifying areas where efficiency gains can be made without the implementation of an RPA solution.


Adam Hurst

A senior consultant for Triad, a UK-based IT consultancy that provides the skills, commitment and people to help companies in the public, private and third sectors achieve their digital transformation goals by quickly delivering specialist teams across Agile and waterfall projects. Adam has over 30 years’ experience as a Business Analyst and Project Manager, with specific expertise in police and facilities management environments, and is one of the team spear heading Triad’s RPA operations.